Public opposition to President Joe Biden's removal of the Title 42 border policy has softened slightly over the past year, but immigration policy continues to be a political liability for the president and the Democratic Party, according to a Morning Consult survey conducted ahead of the measure’s May 11 expiration.
Rescinding Title 42 Is Unpopular, but Slightly Less So Than in 2022
Half of voters oppose removal of Title 42 restrictions
- According to a May 6-7 survey, 51% of voters oppose the Biden administration's removal of the pandemic-era border controls initially implemented by President Donald Trump in 2020, slightly lower than the 54% who said the same in an April 2022 survey, when the administration tried to do the same last year.
- Democratic voters are less likely to support Biden’s move than Republicans are to oppose it, 60% to 79%. Public opinion among Democrats on the issue has changed little over the past year, but there’s been a slight moderation in views among Republicans during that time.
- Independent voters are now 6 percentage points more likely to oppose Biden’s lifting of the border controls than they were last year (57% to 51%), while just over a quarter (27%) back the move, 4 points lower than in 2022.
Title 42 news hasn’t yet broken through to the electorate
The policy’s expiration had yet to break through to a wide swath of the electorate when a separate survey was conducted last week. That survey, also conducted May 6-7, found that roughly 1 in 5 voters said they had seen, read or heard “a lot” about the planned May 11 expiration of the pandemic restrictions or the administration's plan to deploy 1,500 active duty U.S. troops to help handle an expected surge of migrants at the southern border.
Two in 5 voters said they hadn’t seen, read or heard anything about immigration, suggesting that there is ample room for views to develop — either positively or negatively — depending on how the situation at the border unfolds once the migration restrictions are lifted. Biden warned Tuesday that it is “going to be chaotic for a while.”
For now, about half of voters (49%) disapprove of how Biden’s handled immigration — his worst marks of 16 issues tested — and Republicans on Capitol Hill are trusted more than Democrats in Congress to deal with it, 45% to 38%.
While immigration isn’t the top voting issue for most Americans, 56% do say it’s “very important” at the ballot box next year. And if the two candidates end up being Biden and Trump, who holds a massive lead in Morning Consult’s GOP primary tracker, data continues to show the former president has an advantage with these voters, and most importantly, the independents among them.
Voters View Trump’s Immigration Policies More Positively Than Biden’s
Plurality thinks Biden has made the immigration system worse
- Voters are about as likely to say the immigration system has worsened under Biden as they are to say it improved under Trump (46% to 47%) when asked to compare the two to their predecessors.
- Among independent voters in particular, views have shifted against Biden on immigration. The share who say the immigration system has deteriorated under Biden increased 12 points over the past year, from 44% to 56%.
- Views among Democratic voters are mostly unchanged over the past year: 38% think the immigration system has gotten better under Biden, 36% say it has stayed the same and 15% say it’s gotten worse.
The latest Morning Consult survey covering Title 42 was conducted May 6-7, 2023, among a representative sample of 1,986 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.